BMW Unwraps The i4 Sedan Concept Online

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It was supposed to appear at the Geneva auto show, but after that event was cancelled, BMW elected to do an online reveal of its upcoming i4 battery electric sedan concept. The actual car is slated to go into production in 2021. The i4 is an important car for BMW as it is the vehicle that the company will rely on as it moves forward into the electric car future.

BMW i4 Concept
Image: BMW

Speaking with CNBC on March 2, BMW CEO Oliver Zipse said the BMW Concept i4 vehicle is bringing “electromobility to the heart of the BMW brand. It’s fast, it has an acceleration of less than four seconds from zero to 100 kilometers an hour, it has a range of 600 kilometers,” he said, then added the company sold more than 140,000 electrified vehicles last year and is “quite positive about our profitability in the future, even with electromobility.”

“The BMW Concept i4 represents a look ahead to the BMW i4, slated to enter production in 2021. It provides a whole new take on the dynamic excellence for which BMW is renowned and blends a modern, elegantly sporty design with the spaciousness and functionality of a four-door Gran Coupe — all while generating zero local emissions,” the company said in a press release. A video of the i4 appears at the end of this story.

BMW Concept i4
Image: BMW

Here are some specs: An 80 kWh battery, 530 horsepower, 0 to 100 km/h in just over in 4 seconds, a top speed of 200 km, and a range  of 600 kilometers (WLTP). The suggested prices have not yet been announced. Three driver-selectable driving modes will be offered — Core, Sport, and Efficient.

“The design of the BMW Concept i4 shows fantastic proportions, a powerfully expressive character and, of course, a lot of attention to detail,” says Domagoj Dukec, head of BMW Design. “With the BMW Curved Display, we have redefined BMW’s signature driver focus in an extremely elegant way. At the same time, the BMW Concept i4 transports a feeling of sustainable driving pleasure.” The company says the design cues incorporated into the i4 Concept define the way its electric cars will look in the future.

BMW i4 Concept
Image: BMW

From most perspectives, the i4 is an attractive automobile. However, here is a comment from user videomax72 to the video on YouTube. It’s in German, but you won’t need to be a native German speaker to get the gist of what he had to say. “Der ‘Grill’ sieht so absolut absurd aus… Goofy Zähne :)” Your opinion may vary. See dealer for details.

Like most electric cars, ditching the engine, transmission, driveshaft, exhaust system, and differential leaves more room on the inside. The i4 offers generous dimensions and unparalleled comfort for driver and passengers alike. But the electronics incorporated into the interior are what most people will notice first.

BMW i4 Concept
Image: BMW

“The BMW Curved Display encompasses a large proportion of the section in front of the driver and above the center stack and gives the front area a very modern appearance. Its slim, borderless form exudes quality and sophistication,” the company says. “Almost all operating functions are integrated into the display as part of an overall approach centered on reducing the number of haptic controls to the minimum. Even the climate control system now works by touch control.” Ten years ago, who would have thought upstart Tesla would teach mighty BMW how to design a proper interior for a modern automobile?

No press release would be complete without a lot of self serving hype. The BMW announcement waxes so eloquent about the sounds the driver and passengers will hear that it deserves to be reproduced in its entirety. This may qualify for the Don Draper Wretched Excess award for this year.

The BMW Concept i4 is not only characterized by its individual design, but also by its own visionary and unique sound. It was developed under the brand name of BMW IconicSounds Electric by world renowned composer Hans Zimmer together with BMW Sound Designer Renzo Vitale. BMW IconicSounds Electric aims to emotionalize BMW’s electric vehicles and make them audible using individual sound worlds. The sound of the BMW Concept i4 achieves this to perfection — it combines BMW’s past and future.

It gives the driver the feeling that there are no limits of expression. The sound is manifold, surprising, and it provides a sense of lightness and transparency. The sound worlds of the BMW Concept i4 range from the driving sounds in “Core” mode to the more intense and pronounced sounds of “Sport” mode. Also included are the sounds of the door opening and the starting scenario.”

If that is not over the top, we don’t know what is! The press release is surprising light on details about the autonomous driving capabilities of the i4. We assume it will offer a full suite of self-driving technology. Perhaps the company will have more to say on that subject as the start of production gets closer.

BMW i4 Concept
Image: BMW

BMW says it is investing €200 million to reconfigure its Munich assembly plant to accommodate the manufacturing idiosyncrasies of electric cars. There is little question the i4 will be a remarkable car to drive and to own. The questions are, will enough people buy one and will BMW make a profit on the i4? Overall, the i3 was never the runaway success BMW hoped it would be. It needs the i4 to be shine in the marketplace. Quite frankly, the future of the company depends upon it.

All photos and video courtesy of BMW.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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